Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New "easel"

Last week I got the bargain of the year with a new easel! Well, not quite an easel.

You see, easels are just a work space. Different artists need different things. I've not really been an easel artist for a long time - they usually aren't sturdy enough for my hard brushing. So for years I've just had nails in the walls and put canvases directly on the walls.

Of course, this creates a LOT of holes in the walls when you consider different sized canvases.

Add to that my shoulder tendonitis and the need to sometimes work quite low, to keep my arm below shoulder height. That means another level of nails.

In the new studio I've been compromising so far with some boxes on the floor and the large canvases propped up on them. This puts the top of the canvas just about shoulder height. A little more height would be nice most of the time, but it works.

Except, well, nan bread boxes aren't the most glamourous looking studio furniture!

A secondhand furniture shop near me had a cute 60s looking dressing table out front... my brain saw it and thought "hmm, nice height for a painting". I asked the price and for £5 my brain thought "yes!"

Here's a photo with it next to my rickety easel so you can get a sense of size. Because it's a solid piece of furniture it also means I can work lower and put the painting on the floor if I need to. The dresser won't move with the canvas propped up in front of it.

Add to that the bonus of 4 drawers for supplies. Hooray! (plus a full length mirror that should attach to the back and I've put in the bedroom)

I'm planning to decoupage the front with bits of art and clippings that inspire me. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Derwent Graphitone and why I use it

Some of my favourite pencils are the Derwent Graphitone water-soluble pencils. I mainly use the number 8 darkness and use it in almost all my drawings whether they are on plywood or limestone paper.


An atmospheric wash behind the very linear structure - detail from Memories of Alum

With the rigidity of the structures I'm drawing the watercolour like graphitones give a sense of organic structure. Something soft to constrast with the groups of lines and tight textures.

Creating a dark edge with Graphitone - detail from Stone Arch

It can also be used quite simply to create a dark black area or line that regular graphite doesn't give. So the drawing has strong contrast and the darkest area is a black.

If I'm feeling very playful, I can even take advantage of the water and make drips - detail from Black Rock Tides
And in my latest drawing, I played with the water and graphitone making a grainy texture - though I didn't leave it that way.

Overall, it's just another tool in the pencil arsenal! From a line to a wash look to a blended area, pencil can give many different types of look to an image and doesn't have to be a hard line or edge.

You can see the range of Derwent graphitones here (not an affiliate link, just sharing because I love them!).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Preparing Light

In August I will be including my work in a show called "Light" for Grejczik Gallery - and I wanted to create some new pieces in the series that were specifically related to stars and star colour.

The Light series (click to view them all!) is already all about light (of course) but has evolved slowly from colours of sea and cliff, to sky, to stars. And the latter is the direction I'd like the series to go now. The ideas are of course starting with the obvious yellow, white, red and blue stars - but then the spectrums are getting a bit creative from there. Can I create the pink/red of a star but surround it with a light or white light rather than dark sky? What about including some gold paint? How to transition yellow to deep dark surroundings? How about that magenta pink, could I make a pink star?

Add to that the Kickstarter campaign for the gallery with the rewards of Light paintings, and I have a busy painting schedule!

It's nice to have colour in the studio again. These are the early layers of some of the 12" and 6" square paintings on canvas. There are also 100x120cm canvases on the go for the Affordable Art Fair in October, so colour colour everywhere!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

3 shows in Scarborough

Next week you can see a bit of my work in THREE places in Scarborough.

Fisherman's Pier, Acrylic on canvas 40cm x 50cm

Fishermans' Pier is in a great little show of local artists at the Scarborough Art Gallery, our local art museum.


organised by the Scarborough Arts Forum group on Facebook
Scarborough Art Gallery
The Crescent
Exhibition on until 16 August
Open Tues-Sun 10-5

Colour 7, part of the Colours of Yorkshire postcard series

Several of my postcard-sized paintings have been selected for the anonymous exhibition at Woodend Gallery - with unlabelled postcards all for £20 from artists local and national. An exciting opportunity to discover something new!


Woodend Creative Gallery
The Crescent (yup, next to the art gallery)
25 July to 18 September
Open 9-5 weekdays, 10-4 Saturdays

Strata, acrylic on canvas 80cm x 60cm

And last but not least, Strata and two other coast paintings featuring Saltwick Bay are in the small geology inspired exhibition at my very own Grejczik Gallery.


Grejczik Gallery
9a Hanover Road
Behind the Stephen Joseph Theatre
Exhibition on until end of July.
Will extend into August but without a definite end date, as I prepare for the grand opening event. (ooh! Read all about that here! Everyone's invited!)

A good excuse to have a little art tour of Scarborough next week.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ch ch ch changes - changes in the rock

After my outings with the Rotunda geology group I went back to Saltwick Bay last Thursday to meet with a photographer for a magazine photo. Two visits to my favourite spot in one week!

One of the things our fearless leader, Liam Herringshaw, pointed out was the assumption by a lot of people that because of the fine structure of the shale - the mudstone - it's quite consistent throughout and was laid down continuously without a lot of changes (or "events"). In fact there are event horizons that can be seem on a very fine scale if you look at some pieces or areas of the mudstone with a magnifier. Even something as subtle as a change of the grey colour shows something occurred at the boundary of the shades of grey.

So on Thursday I thought I'd go scramble over the rocks by Black Nab - the side of the bay I rarely go explore as there are very few ammonites there. But this time I didn't want ammonites. I wanted pieces of shale with macroscopic events in them that showed lines where something had changed.

And I wasn't disappointed.

Yes, these are really on a beginner's scale of things but it was fun to search them out. And will be fun to draw them.
Line of shelly material with clear mudstone above and below - a storm or other desctructive event? Maybe a scour where the materials was pushed together by water on top of the layer below. 

But what's this? A lovely line of calcite (?) straight through the rock but crossing through the original layers. A later sign of fluid flow. Pretty!
Perfectly pretty example of changes in the sequence (in the layman's context, not the geological term):
bivalve and other bioclastic materials in mudstone - mudstone. 
Bivalves sit in a certain orientation on the seabed in order to feed. This collection of fossil shells seems too dense and with shells in very different alignments (up, down, sideways) for them to be in a life position. So not differences showing within the stone, but a cluster of shelly materials probably brought together from some sort of event. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Research for Writing - geology in the field

 New chapter added to the SCENES OF ART AND SCIENCE book: The Shale! (psst: last day to preorder and get cool Kickstarter-only extra options!)

Writing at the fossil desk
Sunday, mere days away from the end of the Kickstarter campaign, I went on a group geology walk as a treat for my birthday (slightly after it) to once again walk the shale of Saltwick to Whitby once again with geologist Liam Herringshaw. This time as part of the Scarborough Rotunda's geology society.

Having done this walk three times with an expert guide, I'm always surprised with new interesting information. Such as the Ovatum layer that tops the Mulgrave part of the Whitby mudstones, with the  next layer of harder mudstones on top of it. So with a sketchbook full of quick draws and notes I decided to add this to the book because I find it really interesting!

Standing on the Ovatum layer
Plus, I was able to sort out my confusion with the Dogger Ironstone layer that was making me stumble on the gallery wall drawing last week. (Hint, it has a syncline (a "U" curve) between Saltwick Nab and Whitby - that was why I was getting confused with which way it dipped in my photos!)
Dog by the Dogger!

I love my research trips!

Out researching!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Drawing goes LARGE

Drawing LARGE

Today I'm off to do the first chalkboard wall drawing in the new gallery. Very exciting! And on, apparently, what is to be the hottest day of the year. Good timing eh?

So my supplies for today include the chalk (both sticks and powder form), charcoal, coloured chalk (for some red in the Dogger sandstone bit of the geology), and a giant fan.

I've done a second (and third) sketch for the large drawing concept, not letting contradictory websites lead me astray on where the Dogger is!

For a bit more background about the chalkboard wall, have a read of the Kickstarter update here. It has more upcoming draft drawings for the wall!

And don't forget, the project is nearly at the next stretch goal... if we meet it, all you backers will get a free digital/printable set of the finished wall drawings. Yay!

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